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May is Mental Health month. This is the first post in a series on depression and the startup community. 

Know that you are not alone.

Depression lies. It tells us that we are the only person who has felt loss, who has felt failure, who has felt desperation, who has felt nothing. This simply is not true.

There are litanies of other people who have felt this way. And progressively more and more people in the startup community are opening up to share their personal experiences every day. Brad Feld, Tim Ferris, Ben Huh, Jason Calacanis, Rand Fishkin, Andy Sparks, and many more have shared their experiences.

Connect

It is one thing to intellectually know that you are not alone. It is another to feel it in your heart. When we open our heart and mouth to share with another, we move and transform energy.

Start simple. Talk with a friend, a colleague, a co-founder, a coach, a therapist, anyone you feel you can be honest with and who will respect you where you’re at. Be honest. Let them listen. Make sure they understand their role is to hold space for you, not to fix you. If this feels like too much, dogs and journals are amazing listeners. Just start sharing somewhere, in some way.

When you feel ready, connecting with an intentional, structured community of peers can be transformative. At Reboot, we are greatly inspired by the work of the Center for Courage and Renewal’s Circles of Trust. These structured groups support each participant’s inner journey. A trusted, purposeful group of peers keep us moving along the path of our own heart.

Be

As I previously shared, I believe that you do not overcome depression, you move through it. Depression does not have a timetable, a to-do list or operation manual. In depression, effort does not equate outcome.

There is a peace to be found when we surrender the outcome. To surrender, even if just for today, to the practice, the art of being instead of the result. To honor where we are at, what we feel, to be with what is happening.

Our friend Parker Palmer describes the depressed soul as a wild animal in the woods. Of this animal he says:

It is very shy. It it runs away when someone comes crashing into the woods, screaming for it to come out. wild animal comes out when somebody’s willing to walk in the forest, the dark forest of my life at that time, sit quietly at the base of the tree, breathe with the earth, and just wait for it to put in an appearance, and then quietly relate to it any way they can, helping me to honor that primitive life in myself because they’re honoring it and they’re seeing the spark.

At the end of the day, I don’t have the answer. You do. This is merely a list of things which I, and other members of the Reboot team have found helpful through our personal experiences with depression. It’s not intended to be a comprehensive list.

Many people who suffer from depression need the help of medical professionals (and yes, medications). I did.

Originally posted on Medium.


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Sarah Jane Coffey Sarah Jane Coffey
Sarah Jane Coffey writes and manages content at Reboot.io. Reboot works with founders and entire organizations to build to build stronger, more resilient leaders and teams. She was previously the Director of Product at the Global Accelerator Network (GAN). Follow her on Twitter @savvysarahjane